Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices by Melissa Gregg (auth.)

By Melissa Gregg (auth.)

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Hoggart’s empathic voice instead asks that the reader cares about and be invested in the lives of the people discussed, directly attacking the distance of the scrutinising bourgeois gaze. Hoggart’s study localises in order to con front broad claims that can be made for ‘the’ working class as a whole. ). Ordinariness Hoggart’s own style distinguishes itself from orthodoxies of both disciplinary and political correctness. He instigates a situated, partisan account of working-class life to counter the assumptions produced by commentaries far removed from the culture itself.

Hoggart’s project helps in understanding the tenacious appeal of the mainstream and the ordinary, the quiet dignity and resilience with which the majority of people go about their lives in conservative times. While in many ways premised on the presumption of a progressive political worldview, cultural studies has needed regular reminding that its own aspirations do not always meet those who are the subjects of its study (Miller and McHoul, 1998; Gregg and Burgess, 2006). Retaining an unflagging commitment to changing the status quo risks an avant-garde elitism when the majority of people are content with the way things are.

As she writes, ‘things which we cannot control’, including ‘the imaginative, the sensual, the emotional, the other’ continue to pose challenging topics for sociological analysis (2000: 14). At transition times like these, when disciplinary guardians remain attached to preferred languages, I hope empathic writing and reading practices can make the changing functions of academic practice a less traumatic and hostile development. The affective contagion of the critical discourse I seek to outline makes matters of address, audience and assumption procedural.

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